Chelli Lona Aphra, best known as Doctor Aphra, is a Star Wars character created by Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larroca, and Heather Antos. She is an archeologist – with (really) questionable morals – recruited by Darth Vader to help him get an army of droids. She has a great start fixing two murderous psycho droids, Tripe-Zero and Beetee; they remain Aphra’s companions for a very long time.
After a while, Aphra starts showing more of her feelings and a wish to be a better person, she’s still pretty cold and unreliable sometimes. The quote that best expresses her feelings is this one: “I just… I get things wrong. I’m selfish. I… I use people. But…I don’t expect to sleep well. Ever.” (Doctor Aphra #19).
The current Doctor Aphra series is from writer Alyssa Wong and artist Marika Cresta. If you have read past Doctor Aphra stories and didn’t like them, I really hope you give this one a try; it feels like something completely different from what came before, and even the cast is mostly new. Give it a shot, you won’t regret it.
Collects: Darth Vader (2015) #1-25, Darth Vader Annual (2015) #1, Star Wars: Vader Down (2015), Star Wars (2015) #13-14
Vader wants his own force within the Empire. He goes after Doctor Aphra, someone who can build him an army of droids; she starts off by repairing Triple-Zero and Beetee (our favorite homicidal robots). They work as a great team, but we all know Vader doesn’t plan on keeping Aphra alive for long; things only get tenser and tenser, so you fear for Aphra’s life.
Throughout the omnibus, you can see Aphra help Vader with all kinds of schemes. Gillen presents us her relationship with the world of the bounty hunters and some of its members, mainly the Wookiee Black Krrsantan. We also learn a bit about her past, her political views, and how she betrayed her ex-girlfriend, Sana Starros.
This volume is AMAZING! Of course, the Vader stuff is incredible. It’s great to see the new characters and how the old ones are explored (given that they can’t change that much because the story happens between movies). But my favorite parts of Aphra’s story are the drama and how hard it is living with herself, and the seeds to all of that are planted here. I love it!
The Doctor Aphra Cut (every comic she’s in): Darth Vader (2015) #2-12, Star Wars: Vader Down (2015), Darth Vader (2015) #13, Star Wars (2015) #13, Darth Vader (2015) #14, Star Wars (2015) #14, Darth Vader (2015) #15-17, Star Wars (2015) #16-19 (can be found in the volume below), Darth Vader (2015) #19-25.
Collects: Star Wars #16-19
Collects: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2016) #1-40; Star Wars: Doctor Aphra Annual (2017) #1-3; Darth Vader (2015) #3-4, #8, #21, #25; Star Wars (2015) #13, #19, #31-32; Star Wars: The Screaming Citadel (2017) #1; material from Star Wars: Empire Ascendant (2020) #1.
Now that she escaped Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra is traveling with Triple-Zero, Beetee, and Krrsantan. She meets her father again after a long time, and she has to help him if she wants her Doctorate back. It obviously reopens some old wounds and teaches us a little about Aphra’s past. But the best part of the first arc is introducing Magna Tolvan, a captain of the Imperial Military.
There’s a great crossover with the Star Wars comic that mainly focuses on Aphra and Luke. From here on out, you’ll see her being more and more regretful of the things she does.
Triple-Zero finally shows what he’s made of. He and Beetee betray Aphra and start their own criminal organization. Unfortunately, our protagonist is forced to work for them and do everything she was trying to stop doing. Aphra and Tolvan meet again and it’s the greatest thing ever; they finally kiss and spend some time together, it’s obvious they care about each other a lot. But Aphra can’t just wake up and suddenly become a better person, so she returns to Tripe-Zero. Tolvan arrives at their base and arrests almost everyone, including Aphra.
In Accresker prison so many bad things happen, oh my god. Simon Spurrier’s work might be even better than Gillen’s if you only consider the dramatic bits (at least during his first arcs). There are some twists, so I’ll keep quiet about them, but things change a lot. It leads up to Aphra and Triple-Zero being forced to work together to survive on a new planet. There, Aphra comes closest to changing herself and being a better person. It’s really dramatic, but also a bit funny at the same time, as their actions are being transmitted to everyone on the planet; you see two completely untrustworthy “villains” giving a message of hope and change to the watchers.
To be honest, I don’t really like the last arc, but Darth Vader is back, so I’m sure many people will love it. Doctor Aphra #40 and Star Wars: Empire Ascendant (2020) #1 are amazing; they fit perfectly in the story and give both the vibe of an ending and of a new adventure beginning.
Reading Order (as I have already talked about the 2015 stuff, like Darth Vader, in the previous section, I’ll only talk about the new issues here): Doctor Aphra (2016) #1-6, The Screaming Citadel (2017), Star Wars #31, Doctor Aphra #7, Star Wars #33, Doctor Aphra #8, Doctor Aphra Annual (2017) #1, Doctor Aphra (2016) #9-13, Doctor Aphra Annual (2017) #2, Doctor Aphra (2016) #14-37, Doctor Aphra Annual (2017) #3, Doctor Aphra (2016) #38-40, Star Wars: Empire Ascendant (2020) #1.
Collects: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge #1-5
The Doctor Aphra Cut: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge #3-5.
Collects: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2020) #1-5
Aphra, Krrsantan, and Lucky are hired to find some cursed magic rings. But Ronen Tagge, a member of a powerful family of the Galactic Empire, also wants to acquire them. If you didn’t like the other volumes or simply didn’t feel like reading them, you can start with this one and understand almost everything with no problems.
Collects: Star Wars: Bounty Hunters (2020) #1-5
Doctor Aphra sells information to a bounty hunter.
The Doctor Aphra Cut: Star Wars: Bounty Hunters (2020) #1.
Collects: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2020) #6-10
Domina Tagge, Ronen’s aunt, forces Aphra to work for her. She wants the archeologist to steal an artifact said to hold the key for a method of lightspeed travel. Aphra convinces Sana to work with her (I love seeing their dynamic). Also, we see Lucky and his ex Ariole find out about a conspiracy inside the Sixth Kin, the organization they are in. It’s great to see those two stories happening and sometimes connecting (Also, it’s always good to see more of Lucky, so I ain’t complaining).
Collects: Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Alpha (2021) #1, Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters (2021) #1-5
“War of the Bounty Hunters” is a pretty cool event; it’s definitely something you won’t regret reading. But all the Aphra stuff here is a summarized version of what happens in her solo series, so you can actually skip this if you want.
The Doctor Aphra Cut: Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters (2021) #1-3, 5.
Collects: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2020) #11-15
The criminal Syndicate Crimson Dawn is back to change the Star Wars universe. This is the beginning of a trilogy of arcs revolving around the Crimson Dawn and its schemes. After everything Aphra went through with Darth Vader, she has PTSD; I’m excited to see how this aspect of her will be handled in the future.
The most important (and badass) thing that happened in this volume was Aphra find a Thought Dowser, an artifact created by The Ascendant – a cult obsessed with powerful and dark technology.
Collects: Star Wars: Doctor Aphra (2020) #16-20
In this volume, Domina Tagge finds out Crimson Dawn has members everywhere, including in her organization. She sends Aphra and Sana to find out more about The Ascendant and acquire more of their artifacts.